Saturday, October 25, 2008

The Michigan/Michigan State Rivalry

UPDATE: Congratulations Spartan Fans. You earned it.


As a Michigan Wolverine football fan growing up in the great state of Michigan, there were several significant rivalries for the maize and blue. Of course the Ohio State game, taking place the last game of the year, was always a big one with Big Ten title implications each year. The Notre Dame game, typically taking place early in the year, was always held great anticipation.

But for fans within the state of Michigan, the Michigan/Michigan State game was the biggest. Since we lived in the same neighborhoods, went to the same schools, worked together and worshipped together (at least I think there's some State fans that go to church - that's a joke), there was constant back-and-forth throughout the year.

As a UM or MSU fan, you knew that if your team lost, you would have to face the music the next day. If your team won, you got to gloat for a year. Although the Michigan/Ohio State game is arguably the greatest rivalry in all of American sports, I didn't have to deal with Ohio State fans personally before or after the game. Of course, that all changed when I lived for six years in the heart of Buckeye country, but that's another story.

As it turned out, most of my closest friends in elementary school, junior high and high schools were Spartan fans. I really don't know how that can to be, but that's how it was. I had to continually defend the tradition of Michigan and its far superior winning ways. The in-state rivalry is fun on a lot of fronts and it's a little more civil than the the OSU/UM rivalry.

With Michigan having a down year, there is a lot of hope among the green and white that this will be their year. I think State has a good squad and that their coach, Mark Dantonio, was a really good hire and has turned their program around. But when it's all said and done, there is still a shadow that looms over East Lansing. As former Michigan running back Mike Hart recently said:

"They're a good program, don't get me wrong, but they're not Michigan," Hart said this week by phone. "They're always going to have to fight that they're not Michigan. They're always going to be in Michigan's shadow. "They'll always be second to us whether they beat us or not. They have to go on a winning streak for a while. But it's more than that. As far as Ann Arbor goes, compared to East Lansing, Michigan compared to Michigan State, Michigan is the better school, and that's not just me talking."
It's been a number of years since I was actually in Michigan during this game and due to a speaking engagement at a church here, I'll only be able to catch part of the game later on today. I'm hoping for a good game and an inspired performance from Michigan. And I realize that State may have our number this year, but Michigan still has the upper hand in the rivarly. Just for some fun, here is a video of Hart's comments from last year to add a little fuel to the fire...

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